Bright future for Irish Cultural Centre, London as Council deal is signed

The Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith is delighted to confirm the completion of a deal to purchase its premises from Hammersmith and Fulham Council.

The deal was signed this week following months of negotiations between the board of directors and the council supporters. The deal was hailed by Councillor Joe Carlebach, H&F Council as “a positive solution that benefits our Irish community”. Councillor Carlebach also paid tribute to Centre Chairman Jim O’Hara and the team at the Centre for what he described as the constructive and very professional way that they have handled the negotiations and a sustained period of fundraising and campaigning by the Centre’s supporters. The sentiment was echoed by Mr. O’ Hara, who praised the “co-operative spirit” in which the centre and council had worked together since the decision to sell the building was made in 2011.Mr O’Hara also thanked the Irish government for its “vital support”.

The management announced that the deal would herald a new era for the Centre, and secure its position as the flagship for Irish Arts and Culture in the UK. General Manager Catherina Casey said the deal brought to a conclusion a “challenging but inspiring” period in the Centre’s history, which had resulted in an overwhelming level of goodwill and support from those who believe in the future of the Cultural Centre. The Blacks Road premises will now be redeveloped, subject to planning permission, providing the Centre’s team with an opportunity to create a new state-of-the-art building and further develop its programme and services. The development, said Casey, represented a wonderful opportunity to improve the structural facilities of the Centre which would, in turn, allow it to achieve its real potential as a “tour de force” in Irish Arts and Culture.

The construction of the new premises is scheduled to commence early 2013 with a projected completion date in 2014. The Centre’s management is currently putting arrangements in place to facilitate the continued availability of many of its classes, entertainment and community programmes throughout the redevelopment period. And while finding suitable temporary venues local to their Hammersmith home will create its own challenges, the team is dedicated to maintaining as full a programme as possible for its users.

Though the Centre has succeeded, against all the odds, in raising the £1.5million to purchase the freehold of the building, there still remains a necessity to raise funds for the refurbishment and fit out of the new building which will cost in excess of £500K. The team at the Irish Cultural Centre is gearing up for a new fundraising campaign to reach this target and hoping that the Irish community will show its goodwill and rally to support them.

The ICCH will be submitting a planning application for the works to the Council later in the year.

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